Boxers to begin trials for Indian adventure
By Eamonn O’Hara
THE spotlight may be firmly on Belfast light-flyweight star
Paddy Barnes and Cavan ABC bantam John Joe Nevin as the
Olympic medal hopes make their way today to Beijing on route
to Ireland’s final training camp on the Pacific coast of
But, aside from the excitement and anticipation over the Chinese Games – the first to be held in Asia since Seoul 20 years ago – Ulster boxing is also preparing for the Commonwealth Youth Games which take place in India in October.
It is now at the final pre-selection stage for the Northern Ireland team and the province’s top teenage boxers are priming themselves for trials to be held at the Dockworkers Club in Belfast next week.
At the moment, the Commonwealth Council has allocated a place in four weight divisions, though Pat McCrory, president of IABA’s Ulster Council, is continuing to negotiate for a fifth Northern Ireland place for the box-offs at Pune with Games officials.
“We are pushing for five places to be granted to us. We are guaranteed four but we believe we have a strong chance of challenging for a Commonwealth Youth medal at a fifth weight and we remain hopeful that the Council will extend our allocation to five,” said McCrory.
All ambitious prospects in the weight categories of 48, 51, 57, 60 and 67 kilos, and born in the years 1990 and ’91, are advised to weigh-in at the Dockers on Saturday between 10am and 11am ahead of the draw for next week’s selection contests.
If the form guide this season is taken as a guide to the main contenders seeking a place on the team for India, then at 51kgs it is expected that among those to weigh-in will be Dockers ABC’s Neil Walker and Liam McGuinness of Gleann. At 57, another highly-rated Gleann boxer is Paul Hyland. He should be joined in the draw by Mark O’Hara of Holy Trinity and Monkstown’s Matthew Crawley.
In the 60kgs division three of the favourites are likely to be Keady’s Sean Duffy, Jamie Kennedy of Toome and Chris Meehan from the Dockers, while at 69 kilos David Walsh of St John’s, Conor Coyle from Derry club St Joseph’s and Monkstown’s Michael Bustard are potential rivals,
With a chance to compete for a Commonwealth Youth Games medal in the autumn, Ulster president
McCrory says he expects a busy scene at the weigh-in with strong entries in all categories.
“At the end of the day this is a huge opportunity for our young boxers, a one in a million chance to go to India and try to win a medal at this international level.
“It will be a tremendous experience for any boxer who is selected when the Ulster Council meets following next week’s trials,” he said.
The box-offs begin on Tuesday, July 29 and if there are enough entries in the various weights the trial competition will continue each night at the Dockers Club through to July 31.
Three of Ulster’s top young boxers, though, will not be involved. Ulster senior finalist Ruairi Dalton of St John’s, Marc McCullough and Tyrone McKenna have been named in Ireland’s squad for the World Cadets Championship, which take place a week before the Commonwealths in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s Olympic squad arrives in Beijing today before travelling to Vladivostok to finalise preparations with the Russian team. The boxing competition starts at the Workers Indoor Arena on August 9 with the draw scheduled to take place the previous day.